AltNews does a Hit Job journalism on Union Minister Piyush Goyal?

The word ‘erroneous’ can be interpreted in several ways, but a simple google search will yield two prominent meanings for the same; incorrect & wrong. An average person who looks at these words would correlate the meaning as is, hence they would assume anything related to the word ‘erroneous’ can altogether be termed only as WRONG.

There are few other meanings for the same word; inaccurate, not exact, imprecise, off target and many more. All these words mean that there is a deviation from the actual truth rather than blaming it WRONG. Most people would not even bother looking at the subtle differences in these meanings to understand what is actually RIGHT or what is actually WRONG.

“Piyush Goyal’s erroneous tweets – the ones he deleted and the one he forgot”, reports AltNews, a website which claims to be a Fake News crusader on several platforms. In this article, the team divulges into how Union Minister Piyush Goyal has tweeted an erroneous tweet from his official twitter account.

There are two parts to this tweet; one is the picture which has been used by Piyush Goyal and his team to represent the news item and the second one is the link to the actual news item. The news item, GOI’s Street Lighting National Programme illuminates 50,000 KM of Indian roads, is sourced from Press Information Bureau.

The Press Information Bureau (PIB) is a nodal agency of the Government of India. PIB is used by the Government of India to facilitate information to the print, electronic and new media on government plans, policies, programme initiatives and achievements. Apart from PIB there are many other reputed news agencies; Press Trust of India (PTI) and Asia News International (ANI). These are reputed new agencies which provide information to other private news agencies.

The first part of the tweet, as suggested by AltNews, the picture has been sourced by Piyush Goyal and his team incorrectly. This picture has surfaced in several places and at different time frames as a representation for LED lighting. As reported by AltNews, this picture has been showcased by CNET once in February 2009, also the same picture has been showcased incorrectly by Pakistan Today in March 2017.

Surprisingly, many people in twitter were commenting that this picture might have also surfaced in Russian websites as well. Although I was able to verify the existence of this website (svetinfo.ru), I could not personally verify the exact article on which this picture had appeared. For all we might know, this might be another hoax picture which is circulating on twitter.

The second part of the tweet is actually what is very important here, this is a news item which has been sourced from PIB (link has already been provided above). Not only PIB, this news item was featured in PTI, Business Standard, Economic Times, Financial Express and many more news agencies. This part of the tweet has not been challenged by AltNews at any instance.

Hence we can comfortably deduce that although the image used by the Union Minister and his team was incorrect, the news item’s authenticity is correct.

Union Minister Piyush Goyal had deleted this partly erroneous tweet which was tweeted on 20th August 2017 at 13:23 PM, he had tweeted the same facts on the very next day using a different picture at 8:05 AM. Exactly at 8:06 AM, he had sportingly acknowledged the error in his previous tweet by saying, “Thanks to many who pointed issues with the earlier image. While we illuminate streets, social media helps illuminate facts, helping us improve.”

There are few questions which are bickering on the top of my head as to what was the need for such an article by AltNews:-

  1. Piyush Goyal and his team had already clarified on 21st August 2017 that the picture was incorrect, an apology was also provided. While AltNews pointed out the erroneous tweet on 22nd August 2017, it never bothered to show the corrected tweet, why?
  2. By claiming the tweet to be erroneous and that the tweet was deleted by Union Minister Piyush Goyal, did AltNews question the authenticity of the news or just the picture?
  3. If AltNews did not bother to question the authenticity of the news, why was it not explicitly mentioned anywhere in the article?
  4. Is AtlNews trying to perform some sort of Hit Job journalism since the intent of the article is not aimed at anything but to defame a Minister who has been performing exceptionally well?

The reason why I have very specific questions to AltNews is because this article seems to be inspired from a series diabolical of tweets which were mentioned in same thread.

One user went ahead to question the Union Minister on a list of all the 50,000 Km of roads in 140 characters using twitter, while others are out-rightly trolling a high performing Minister with no facts or factoids. Not only does this exhibit immaturity on social media but absolute mockery by certain twitter users who fail to perform proper fact checks.

This is not the first time SatyaVijayi has questioned the dubious methods of AltNews, it had earlier exposed how AltNews maintains an abusive social media team through their unofficial facebook page – Unofficial Subramanian Swamy. In another instance AltNews was caught bromancing with NDTV’s Ravish Kumar, clearly the links between social media and Mainstream Media are running very deep.

One thing seems to be very clear, the ‘Art of Hit Job Journalism’ will stay, only the tool which is used to perform this will keep varying with time…

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